As the process of Economic Development hastens in the economy, the demand for natural resources also increases. It becomes critical that natural resources should be used in judicious manner so that these resources are not exploited for short term gain but used without harming the interest of future generations. Environmental factors are estimated as being responsible in some cases for nearly 20% of the burden of disease in India. The National Environment Policy (NEP), 2006 was an effort towards India’s commitment to clean environment and making positive contribution to international efforts.
Earlier Policies on Environment
The NEP builds on the various earlier policies which had addressed the challenges of environment and need of sustainable development prior to this policy. Some of them were:
- National Forest Policy, 1988
- National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development, 1992
- Policy Statement on Abatement of Pollution,1992
- National Agriculture Policy, 2000
- National Population Policy, 2000
- National Water Policy, 2002
The protection of environment has been mandated in the Constitution in Articles 48 A and 51 A (g), strengthened by judicial interpretation of Article 21.
Features of NEP
- The dominant theme of this policy is that while conservation of environmental resources is necessary to secure livelihoods and well-being of all, the most secure basis for conservation is to ensure that people dependent on particular resources obtain better livelihoods from the fact of conservation, than from degradation of the resource
- The policy also seeks to stimulate partnerships of different stakeholders, i.e. public agencies, local communities, academic and scientific institutions, the investment community, and international development partners, in harnessing their respective resources and strengths for environmental management
- Involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions and urban local bodies has been highlighted.
- It also seeks to revisit the Coastal Regulation Zone notifications to make the approach to coastal environmental regulation more holistic and, thereby, ensure protection to coastal ecological systems, waters and the vulnerability of some coastal areas to extreme natural events and potential sea level rise.
- Environmental Impact Assessment will continue to be the principal methodology for appraisal and review of new projects.
- To achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.
Objectives of National Environment Policy, 2006
- To protect and conserve critical ecological systems and resources
- To ensure equitable access to environmental resources and quality for all sections of society, and in particular, to ensure that poor communities, which are most dependent on environmental resources for their livelihoods, are assured secure access to these resources
- To ensure judicious use of environmental resources to meet the needs and aspirations of the present and future generations
- To integrate environmental concerns into policies, plans, programmes, and projects for economic and social development.
- To ensure efficient use of environmental resources in the sense of reduction in their use per unit of economic output, to minimize adverse environmental impacts.
- To apply the principles of good governance (transparency, rationality, accountability, reduction in time and costs, participation, and regulatory independence) to the management and regulation of use of environmental resources.
- To ensure higher resource flows, comprising finance, technology, management skills, traditional knowledge, and social capital, for environmental conservation through mutually beneficial multistakeholder partnerships between local communities, public agencies, the academic and research community, investors, and multilateral and bilateral development partners.
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